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EDITORIAL: Think twice before travelling south

Premier Joe Savikataaq and his team showed Nunavummiut a slice of contrition with his apology to teachers regarding his tactless comments earlier this month.

This is something rarely seen from politicians and was a breath of fresh air during the Covid crisis, noting how federal leaders have yet to own up for their mistakes keeping the virus out of the country or disseminating important information that could've reduced the crisis we're facing now.

A similar show of humanity from Nunavut politicians was also on display as Premier Savikataaq announced a reversal on the decision not to pick up the bill on isolation fees for those who've travelled since the public health emergency began.

The original plan was to make those who were making "non-essential" trips south pay the cost of being put up in a Government of Nunavut-approved and prearranged location in the range of $2,100.

Whether this was due to the weight of conscientiousness of the government not wanting to bill the already over-burdened residents of Nunavut or simply the logistical cost of recovering payments outweighing what it would cost to foot the bill itself, the public may never exactly know.

What is known is that so far over 1,000 residents have isolated down south, essential and otherwise and that has cost the GN a hair under $4 million.
Hickes has called this plan a well-placed investment and is money spent to ensure that the territory remains Covid-free.

It is positive to hear that these numbers are in line with initial estimations, but it should also be worth noting that there is a very finite number to the amount of money in the bank for what the GN can realistically support during these times and many have come knocking.

The distinction of a case-by-case basis should have been established before any announcement of who would be paying what bill for isolation fees. Non-essential travel is anything non-medical or not pertaining to the jobs that keep things like food and electricity flowing.

The definition does not, however, take into account the trips south some make to shop for goods that would normally cost an arm and a leg in their home community that many feel is essential.

A trip south should be for essential visits for family health or picking up much needed supplies, but not to simply to blow off steam or to get a change of scenery.

Nunavummiut should realize the challenges presented by Covid are being felt around the country and many are making hard sacrifices at this time.
It also is a risk to overall public health to make these trips even though Nunavut has done an excellent job at keeping Covid out.

These trips south have a very real cost that will be paid, if not now, in the future by every Nunavummiuq and everyone should think very hard about whether a trip south at this time is really worth it.